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Taxes & Budgets archive


Taxes & Budgets issue archive

 

Mayor Wheeler to prioritize affordable housing bond spending

On Dec. 14, Portland City Council approved spending up to $51 million to purchase a 263-unit apartment complex, $37 million of which may come from the $258 million affordable housing bond approved by voters in November. The affordable housing bond is expected to create or preserve a total of 1,300 low-income housing units. In early January, Mayor Wheeler halted further spending in order to identify a strategy and priorities for the deployment of funds. The Alliance, in supporting the voter-approved bond, urged the city to ensure the revenues are used efficiently to maximize the number of units created or preserved. The Alliance will continue to work with Mayor Wheeler on that effort. 
(January 2017)

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City passes business income tax surcharge in 3-1 vote

Despite thorough lobbying efforts by the Alliance and assistance from impacted members, Portland City Council passed a business income tax surcharge in a 3-1 vote. The Alliance had urged Council to reject this proposal by Commissioner Steve Novick, which imposes a surcharge on the city’s business income tax for certain publicly traded companies that are subject to the city’s business income tax. The surcharge is based on a new Securities Exchange Commission rule that will require disclosure of the ratio of CEO to median employee compensation. The Alliance raised concerns about the inability of the proposal to impact the purported goal of income inequality, the lack of nexus to business activity in the city of Portland and the message that Portland has a negative business climate.
(December 2016)


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Despite other needs, Council approves publicaly financed elections

Portland City Council voted to approve Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s proposal for publicly financed elections. An amendment offered by Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman to refer the program to voters for approval was rejected by a majority of Council. The program, which will be administered by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), will provide city general funds to match private donations to qualifying candidates for Council. The Alliance opposed the program, arguing that there are other priorities for city funding, such as the ongoing homelessness and housing emergency, and that voters already rejected a previous public campaign financing scheme in 2010. Read the letter.
(December 2016)


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City heads to vote on proposed business income tax surcharge

Commissioner Steve Novick is proposing a surcharge on the city’s business income tax for certain publicly traded companies that are subject to a new Securities Exchange Commission rule, which requires reporting of the ratio between CEO and the median employee compensation. The Alliance testified before City Council in opposition to the ordinance based on the lack of nexus between CEO pay and a company’s sales in Portland, inequities within the rule and the inability of this proposal to impact the stated goal of addressing income inequality. A vote on the ordinance is scheduled for Dec. 7.
(November 2016)

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City delays hearing over proposed business license tax surcharge

Commissioner Steve Novick is proposing a surcharge on the city’s business license tax for companies that are publicly traded based on the pay ratio between the CEO and the median employee. The ordinance was scheduled to have a hearing on Oct. 5, but it was delayed due to protests at City Hall related to the now approved Portland Police contract. The rescheduled hearing will be Oct. 26. 
(October 2016)

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Alliance voices concerns over proposed Portland Business Income Tax surcharge


The Alliance sent a letter to Portland City Council in opposition to a proposal by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick’s that would impose a surcharge on the city’s Business Income Tax. The surcharge would be based on the pay differential between the CEO and the median paid employee at publicly traded companies required to disclose this information to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Read the letter.
(September 2016)

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Alliance opposes publicly financed elections


The Alliance sent a letter to Portland City Council in opposition to Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz’s proposal for voter-owned elections, which, if passed, would make candidates for commissioner and mayor seats that are certified as a public finance candidate eligible for a matching program. Any participating candidate would not be allowed to accept donations over $250. The Alliance opposed voter-owned elections in the past, and voters rejected the program after a four-year pilot. In addition, the Alliance does not believe that it is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars especially when there are pressing community needs like the homelessness crisis. Read the letter.
(September 2016)

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City Council refuses proposed Business License Tax increase, approves revised budget

Mayor Charlie Hales proposed a nearly 14 percent increase in the Business License Tax (BLT) as part of his budget, which would have generated $8.7 million in additional revenue. The Alliance aggressively opposed this increase given that revenue is at an all-time high with $25 million more than needed to fund current programs, and the city is collecting 80 percent more from the BLT in 2016 than they did in 2010. Commissioners Fish, Novick and Saltzman all opposed the proposed BLT increase and an alternative budget was developed and adopted by City Council on May 18.
(May 2016)

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PSU withdraws payroll tax from ballot

The Alliance came to an agreement with one of its longstanding partners, Portland State University, on the withdrawal of the proposed PSU payroll tax. The Alliance has agreed to work with PSU on a strategy to address college affordability in Oregon. A task force of business leaders, including Alliance board chair Mitch Hornecker, has agreed to work on that issue over the next two years. Items under consideration will be advocating for additional state financial aid funding for students attending all seven public universities; fundraising for a scholarship fund under the PSU Foundation; and the potential for a local funding measure to support PSU.
(May 2016)

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Alliance participating in the campaign to help defeat the $5 billion tax on Oregon sales

Initiative Petition 28 (IP 28) is likely to appear on the November 2016 ballot. If passed, it would impose a new $5 billion tax on sales in Oregon, the largest increase in state history. It would increase costs for businesses, working families and consumers across the state. IP 28 would result in a tax on sales, not profits and would apply to sales of everyday consumer items like food, gas, medicine, and electricity. Small businesses and those who can least afford it will pay higher prices for goods and services that Oregonians buy every day with no guarantee or plan for how the billions in new taxes would be spent. Please consider joining the Coalition to Defeat the Tax on Oregon Sales and making a contribution. By joining, you will receive updates from the coalition and your donation helps fund the statewide campaign effort that is working hard to defeat this proposal. Download a printable and shareable version of the coalition fact sheet and bookmark the campaign website for quick reference. 
(April 2016)

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Alliance challenges Portland State University payroll tax

A citizens committee filed an initiative for the November 2016 ballot that would establish a payroll tax on employers within the Metro boundary to support scholarships, advisors and faculty at PSU. In response, the Alliance filed two petitions with Multnomah County Circuit Court. The first asserts that the initiative does not comply with the state constitution, which states that an initiative can only cover one subject. The second challenges the ballot title as drafted for not accurately describing the initiative. The Alliance supports a strong PSU, and we agree that the issue of student affordability must be addressed. But student affordability affects students attending colleges and universities throughout Oregon, not just Portland State.
(March 2016)

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Alliance raises concerns about Portland State University’s proposed payroll tax

The Alliance has expressed concerns about a proposed region wide payroll tax to raise funds for Portland State University. The Alliance has a long history of supporting PSU and funding for post-secondary education statewide, but believes higher education is a state program and funding should be determined on a statewide basis, not regionally. The tax would be created through an initiative proposal within the Metro boundary, and would be expected to amount to one-tenth of 1 percent of payroll region wide. The Alliance is urging PSU to slow down the tax proposal and work in partnership with the Alliance on an alternative plan that can be broadly supported.
(December 2015)

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City of Portland demolition tax will not move forward

Earlier this fall, the Alliance testified on a proposal by Mayor Charlie Hales to create a demolition tax for residential structures, raising concerns that the new tax may put increased pressure on housing affordability in the city. At a minimum, the Alliance urged that any such proposal be restricted to one-to-one conversions (single family-to-single family) in order to avoid a disincentive to develop multi-family housing, which would run counter to the city’s density and affordability goals. Following that hearing, Mayor Hales reworked the proposal to remove the rebate for demolitions that increase density.  City Council members continued to raise additional concerns and, when it became clear a majority of City Council members would not support the proposal, it was withdrawn by the mayor.
(December 2015)

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Alliance voices concern about city of Portland’s proposed demolition tax

The Alliance raised concerns with the city of Portland’s proposed demolition tax for residential structures due to the potential for the new tax to put increased upward pressure on housing affordability in the city. The Alliance recommends that additional time be taken to understand the full impacts of this policy change, along with other policies in their totality related to impact on housing affordability. This would include increases to system development charges, new property taxes and impact fees. At a minimum, the Alliance urged that any such proposal be restricted to one-to-one conversions (single family-to-single family) in order to avoid a disincentive to develop multi-family housing which would run counter to the city’s density and affordability goals.  Read the letter.
(October 2015)

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Alliance comments on Portland Building renovation

The Alliance submitted comments regarding the need for either significant reconstruction or replacement of the Portland Building. The Alliance supports the plan that sets a cap of $195 million and project completion by 2020 to deal with the building’s structural issues in order to mitigate risks to taxpayers. The Alliance urged that the request for proposals (RFP) to be broadened to invite bidders to submit a reconstruction plan or total building replacement  plan and to evaluate which would be more cost-effective. Secondly, the RFP process should be expedited as costs will only increase over time due to inflation. Lastly, a significant portion of the project costs are driven by policies, fees and regulations the city imposes on itself, such as green energy requirements and art fees. Therefore, the city should reevaluate if – and to what extent – these costs make sense for this project. Read the letter.
(October 2015)

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Alliance expresses concern for increase in tax increment financing for affordable housing

The Alliance is a longtime supporter of the appropriate use of tax increment financing and urban renewal, however it is concerned about the city’s proposed increase of TIF investments for affordable housing. The intent of TIF financing is investing in projects to create more property value than otherwise would have occurred, which ultimately results in additional revenues to jurisdictions like the city, county and schools. The Alliance believes it is critical to strike the right balance of investments with TIF so that it can ultimately fulfill its intent.  Read the letter.
(October 2015)

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TriMet board approves payroll tax increase

TriMet’s board of directors voted to raise the employer and self-employed payroll tax by one-tenth of 1 percent over 10 years. The payroll tax provides about 60 percent of TriMet’s operating revenue. While the Alliance supports TriMet’s cost efficiency measures and the importance of increasing transit service, especially to employment centers, it raised concerns about the substantial increase, which can be significant for many employers. In response to our concerns, TriMet agreed to revisit the increase in 2020. If it's already collecting enough to fulfill the goals laid out in the regional transportation policies, the agency will consider delaying future increases. The increase will go into effect in January 2016. Read the testimony.
(September 2015)

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Alliance raises concerns about proposed TriMet payroll tax increase

The Alliance expressed concern for a TriMet proposal to raise the employer and self-employed payroll tax by one-tenth of 1 percent over 10 years. The payroll tax already provides about 60 percent of TriMet’s operating revenue. The Alliance supports TriMet’s cost efficiency measures and the importance of increasing transit service, especially to employment centers. However, the proposed increase amounts to a 14 percent increase in the payroll tax rate over the 10-year implementation period, which can be six or seven figure increases for some large employers. The Alliance is working with TriMet on the proposal. Read the testimony.
(August 2015)

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Multnomah County increases owner’s compensation deduction in adopted budget

The Alliance testified in support of Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury’s proposed budget and specifically for the increase to the owner’s compensation deduction to the $100,000-level. Increasing the owner’s compensation deduction has been a long-standing priority for the Alliance; the county’s action aligns the deduction with the city of Portland’s. The Alliance also testified in support of upfront investments for the construction of the Multnomah County Courthouse and additional funding for housing placement and affordable housing to help end homelessness. Read the testimony.
(June 2015)

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Alliance comments on TriMet’s proposed increase in payroll tax

Later this year, the TriMet board may consider raising the payroll tax as much as one-tenth of one percent over a ten year period. The Alliance expressed support for TriMet’s efforts to address cost drivers and move the organization toward long-term financial sustainability, as well as the importance of an efficient transit system for employers and employees. However, the Alliance is unwilling at this time to support a ten year increase. The Alliance will continue working with TriMet to evaluate additional information and options. Read the letter.
(June 2015)

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Alliance comments on 2015 Draft Climate Action Plan

The Alliance weighed in on the city of Portland’s 2015 Draft Climate Action Plan, a strategy for Portland and Multnomah County to achieve 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. While the Alliance supports elements of the Plan, including a state transportation package, increased investments in transportation infrastructure and a focus on improving the efficiency of freight movement, it expressed opposition to adoption of a local carbon pricing mechanism and a local fossil fuel export policy. These proposals will have a minimal impact on carbon emissions, but could significantly increase business costs and competitiveness. Additionally, a carbon pricing mechanism would disproportionately burden low-income populations. Read the letter.
(April 2015)

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Alliance addresses concerns regarding state paid sick leave law

Alliance board chair, Debbie Kitchin, testified at the Oregon Legislature’s Senate Workforce Committee and House Business and Labor Committee raising concerns with a bill that would create a state paid sick leave law. The Alliance is urging the state to address problems with the Portland ordinance and to include a provision that only state government can legislate in this arena. Currently, the bill largely mirrors that of Portland’s paid sick time ordinance and adopts a one-size fits all approach that does not acknowledge the unique circumstances of any given business. The Alliance has heard from its members that Portland’s ordinance has been extremely burdensome to implement, including for employers with time off policies that exceed the standards in the city’s ordinance, which has led to increased costs and time spent on compliance. The Alliance is urging for the state to preempt local ordinances in this arena to eliminate the potential problem of a patchwork of differing ordinances that businesses would have to keep track of and comply with. Read the testimony.
(February 2015)

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Alliance advocates for new tools to meet housing affordability goals in Portland

The Alliance is urging the city of Portland and Multnomah County to explore new models and tools to make progress on housing affordability goals. Recent reports show that the numbers of affordable housing units being developed, from low income to workforce housing, are falling far short of the original goals. The Alliance is encouraging Mayor Charlie Hales and Chair Deborah Kafoury to consider additional methods to fund projects. For example, Rob Justus of Home First Development, introduced a proposal for the creation of a Capital Fund supported by private and public funds which could provide a catalyst for faster and more affordable development. The Alliance will continue to encourage city and county leaders to consider innovative proposals to meet affordable housing needs. Read the letter.
(January 2015)

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Alliance advocates for new oversight board for city of Portland water and sewer bureaus

The city of Portland’s Water/Sewer Blue Ribbon Commission, in which the Alliance participated, presented its recommendations to Portland City Council regarding changes to the oversight and accountability of Portland’s water and sewer bureaus. The committee’s recommendations included replacing the Portland Utility Review Board (PURB) and Budget Advisory Committees with a new oversight entity that would have independent, dedicated staff within the city of Portland’s Budget Office. Recommendations also included expertise required of members of the new oversight entity and mechanisms to institutionalize interaction between the oversight entity and Portland City Council at multiple points during the budget process. The city’s proposal falls short of the Alliance’s position that the City Charter should be amended to create a new, independent oversight board for the water and sewer bureaus. However, the Alliance board determined that the city’s action represents progress, and the effectiveness of the changes will still be seen when water and sewer rates are set. Read the letter.
(December 2014)

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Alliance supports recommendations for restructuring of city of Portland's water and sewer bureaus

The city of Portland’s Water/Sewer Blue Ribbon Commission, of which the Alliance has been participating on, presented its recommendations to Portland City Council regarding changes to the oversight and accountability of Portland’s water and sewer bureaus. The committee’s recommendations include replacing the Portland Utility Review Board (PURB) and Budget Advisory Committees with a new oversight entity that will have independent, dedicated staff within the City’s Budget Office. Recommendations also include expertise required of members of the new oversight entity and mechanisms to institutionalize interaction between the oversight entity and Portland City Council at multiple points during the budget process. The oversight entity will have broad authority related to reviewing and recommending rates, capital improvement programs, budgets, systems plans, etc. The proposal falls short of the Alliance’s position that the City Charter should be amended to create a new, independent oversight board for the water and sewer bureaus. However, the Alliance board determined that it is forward movement and the effectiveness of these changes will be seen over the next couple of years in the manner that water and sewer rates are set. 
(November 2014)

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Alliance presents suggested reforms to city’s water and sewer bureaus  

The Alliance is participating on a Water/Sewer Blue Ribbon Commission created by Portland Commissioner Nick Fish and Mayor Charlie Hales. The Commission is chaired by former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. The Alliance has presented its findings related to the flaws in the existing oversight and ratemaking functions of the bureau, as well as its proposed solutions. The Commission continues to meet and will provide recommendations for improvements to city council by the end of the year.
(September 2014)

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Alliance advocates for reform of Portland’s water and sewer bureaus

While the measure for an independent water/sewer district was defeated 3:1, the Alliance is advocating for changes to be made to the management, budgeting and ratemaking of the city’s water and sewer bureaus. Commissioner Nick Fish has indicated he will form a Blue Ribbon Commission that will evaluate the management structure of the Bureau of Environmental Services, the Water Bureau and the transparency of the rate-making process for these utilities. In the meantime, the Alliance joined with the City Club of Portland to send a letter to Commissioner Fish and other Council members, reminding them that the organizations jointly believe management of the bureaus needs to be reformed. Read the letter.
(June 2014)

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Alliance submits recommendations for restructuring of the city’s water and sewer bureaus

The Alliance board voted not to take a position on the Portland Public Water District ballot measure proposal due to what it sees as fundamental flaws in the proposed measure. However, the Alliance also called on Portland City Council to address the substantive management problems at water and sewer bureaus. The board said the city’s utilities should be re-chartered as municipal corporations overseen by the Council as a whole, rather than by one commissioner as is currently done. To view the Alliance’s recommendations, click here.
(April 2014)

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Alliance advocates for restructuring of city of Portland water and sewer bureaus

The Alliance’s Water-Sewer Task Force met with both the proponents and opponents of the proposed initiative to place the city’s water and sewer services under a separately elected governing entity. Due to the potential flaws associated with the proposed ordinance, the task force cannot recommend endorsement of the initiative. However, the task force has concluded that the city’s water and sewer bureaus need to be restructured to ensure the best interests of rate payers. The task force found that, while the water and sewer bureaus clearly have been poorly managed and need restructuring, the proposed initiative is flawed and could create even more problems. The Alliance board adopted the task force recommendation to call for immediate reform of the two city bureaus, but not endorse the propose initiative.
(January 2014)

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Alliance task force looks at water-sewer initiative

The Alliance has convened a Water-Sewer Task Force to research a proposed initiative to place the city’s water and sewer services under a separately elected governing entity.  The task force heard from Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish regarding the proposal, their concerns include issues about the proposal’s legality, bonding authority and governance. The task force will hear from proponents of the measure in January 2014.
(December 2013)

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Portland City Council passes tax relief for small and family-owned businesses

For years, the Portland Business Alliance has advocated for small and family-owned business tax relief in the form of an increase in the owners compensation deduction on the city's Business License Tax. Last week, Portland City Council approved increasing the city’s Business License Tax owners compensation deduction to $100,000. While still short of the $125,000 level council committed to achieving some years ago, this is great progress and brings much needed tax relief to the city’s small and family-owned businesses. We applaud Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish for leading this effort, as well as the rest of council for moving it forward. Please take a moment to thank the members of council for their support. Read the Alliance letter.
(November 2013)

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City’s paid sick leave administrative rules reflect many of the Alliance’s suggested changes

The city of Portland posted the administrative rules for the paid sick leave ordinance which takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. The city incorporated a number of the changes recommended by the Alliance and the business community, including allowing companies to use any 12-month reporting and tracking period for benefits rather than the calendar year and reducing the recordkeeping burden for small firms that hover around five to six employees. The Alliance will host a special meeting for members on Monday, Dec. 2, featuring Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian who will discuss how the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) will approach phase in and enforcement of the rules. Members can RSVP by emailing Dana Sadek. (November 2013)

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Alliance convenes task force to investigate proposed water-sewer initiative

The Alliance has organized a water-sewer task force to research the proposed water-sewer initiative and make a recommendation to the board of directors. The initiative would place control of the bureaus under a newly established elected body separate from Portland City Council. Last month, the task force heard presentations on budget, capital spending and the cost of state and federal regulatory compliance from David Shaff, director of the Water Bureau, and Dean Marriott, director of the Bureau of Environmental Services. In December, the group will host a join discussion with proponents and opponents of the measure, including supporters Kent Craford, representing large water users, and Tom Fahey from Siltronic and opponents Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish.
(November 2013)

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State Legislature approves business community-supported PERS/Revenue package

Throughout the month of September, the Alliance worked with many of the statewide business associations to coordinate business support for the PERS reform and revenue package of bills that was ultimately passed on October 2 in the special session. The Alliance produced a joint statement that included many of the state’s business organizations, such as the Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Seed Council, among others, expressing support for the package. The package that was passed includes $4.6 billion in PERS savings and the largest reduction in small business taxes in decades. Read the statement.
(October 2013)

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Alliance urges Portland City Council to prioritize small business tax relief  

The Alliance has been advocating for small business tax relief at the local level in the form of an increase in the owner’s compensation deduction on the city’s business income tax. The Alliance is urging members of Portland City Council to prioritize increasing the owners compensation deduction  to $100,000 with the projected $8-11 million surplus for the city’s 2012-13 year-end budget. The Alliance has long-advocated for small business tax relief as the city’s business income tax puts a significant burden on small and family-owned businesses. The Alliance encourages members to reach out to members of Portland City Council and the Multnomah County Commission on this issue.
Read the letter.

(October 2013)

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Alliance continues to participate in PERS and tax reform discussions

Governor Kitzhaber is working with legislative leadership to get agreement on a package that would reduce the state’s unfunded Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) liabilities. The Alliance has joined the state’s other major business associations to call for significant PERS reform that would reduced the state’s unfunded liability by at least $5 billion. The governor has indicated that he will call a special legislative session on September 30 to approve a PERS reform plan. The Alliance also continues to work with the governor and other associations on an effort to investigate the potential for long-term tax reform in Oregon. The business associations have agreed to fund half of an initial research effort. The other half will be funded by organized labor.
(September 2013)

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Oregon Legislative Wrap-up

The Oregon Legislature adjourned its 2013 session on Monday, July 8. Throughout the six-month session, the Alliance played an active role in Salem, including delivering testimony, generating grassroots communications and drafting legislation. The Alliance, with our partners, was involved in lobbying and/or tracking the following legislation.

PERS Reform
Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) reform was a top priority for the Alliance this legislative session and while some progress was made with the passage of SB 822, it was not enough for significant cost savings and real money for schools.
  • PERS “Lite”
    SB 822A reduced the PERS unfunded liability by $2.6 billion and saved $460 million this biennium, mainly through reductions to retiree Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs). Another $350 million in biennial savings was achieved by directing the PERS board to defer payment of employer rate increases for two years. Although the bill slightly reduces PERS costs, the Alliance and other business groups opposed the bill as insufficient in addressing the state’s retirement benefits crisis.
Throughout the session, the Alliance, along with its state business association partners, was in conversations with the governor and legislative leaders about additional PERS reform options.  At the end of session, the Alliance and its partners supported a proposed "grand bargain" on PERS reform, which would have made $5 billion in PERS reform while increasing revenue by$195 million. This proposal did not pass the Senate. The Alliance will continue its work next session on additionally needed PERS reform.  

Paid Sick Leave
HB 3390 would have mandated that employers offer a minimum paid sick leave policy of one hour per 30 hours worked. Although this bill did not survive, a work group will be established in the next several months to see if there is interest in the business community to support any version of this mandate.  The city of Portland now stands as the only jurisdiction in the state with a paid sick leave requirement.

Tax Increases
HB 2456A would have phased out itemized deductions for Measure 66 taxpayers, eliminated the personal exemption credit for Measure 67 taxpayers, raised the top tax corporate rate to 7.9 percent and implemented a straight 0.1 percent gross receipts tax on companies with $100 million in sales. The House opted a Republican "minority report," which allowed Oregon to tax income of companies headquartered in designated "tax haven" countries.

Workers’ Compensation
SB 678 reinstates workers' compensation liability protections for LLC owners and members. A 2012 Oregon Court of Appeals decision (Cortez) had made clear that LLC owners and members could be held personally liable for damages stemming from workplace injuries.  The Alliance joined a broad business coalition to support the bill.

Linking Taxes to Licensure
HB 2871A would have linked professional licensure with tax compliance. The original version of the bill would have mandated that professionals demonstrate tax compliance with the Department of Revenue before receiving or renewing their professional licenses. The bill was converted to a study.

Criminal justice reforms
HB 3194 contained broad changes to Oregon criminal justice laws that will improve public safety and save taxpayers an anticipated $326 million over the next decade. The Alliance’s partner organization, Citizens Crime Commission, took the lead on this issue, supported by the Alliance, to back this bill which is projected to avert all of the state’s anticipated prison growth over the next five years while strengthening local public safety strategies.

Tax on Soft Drinks
The Alliance opposed HB 2331, which would have imposed a tax on sugared soft drinks.  The Alliance advocating against the bill as poor tax policy. The measure failed to move out of committee.

Air Permitting
HB 3492/HB 2336 would have imposed new reporting and other requirements on many manufacturing facilities, making permits much more costly and time consuming to obtain. Both bills died in committee.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
SB 488 would have repealed the sunset on provisions of the low carbon fuels standard statute established in 2009.  A broad business coalition, including the Alliance, opposed the sunset.  Passage of the bill would have subjected businesses to strict emissions standards that can not be affordably met given current fuel supply options.
(July 2013)

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Alliance continues to stress urgency around PERS reform

The Alliance has been actively involved in discussions with Governor John Kitzhaber and legislative leaders as they seek an agreement on additional PERS savings and revenue increases. As reported in The Oregonian, an emerging plan would pair up to $275 million new revenue with additional adjustments to PERS, capturing about $1 billion in total PERS savings this year. Business groups have said they will consider additional revenue measures only if substantial new PERS reform is achieved.  The Alliance will continue working with its business association partners, Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Business Association and the Oregon Business Council, at the state level to support this additional PERS reform. (June 2013)

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Alliance recommendations included in city budget

A number of Alliance priorities were recently included in the proposed 2013-14 City of Portland budget. Some of those priorities include: Moving non-utility costs out of the water and sewer bureaus to reduce upward pressure on those utility rates; retaining funds for Bud Clark shelter, Hooper Detox and the CHIERS programs; and initiating a budget review process for city bureaus that should result in reduced costs in the future. Alliance-supported programs that took hits included a 23 percent reduction in general fund support for the Portland Development Commission; a $125,000 cut in funding for the Downtown Marketing Initiative, and a reduction of 55 police positions. Also of concern was the elimination of funding for a Deputy District Attorney to manage the Drug Impact Area program. The Alliance is working with the city to determine how this program funding can be restored. Read the letter.
(June 2013)

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Alliance campaign to reduce business license tax gains steam

For more than eight years, the Alliance has been pushing the city of Portland and Multnomah county to give small business owners more tax relief by increasing the owners’ compensation deduction on the city and county business income taxes, and an offset to do just that was included in the city budget. Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish added language to the budget directing the city’s budget office to identify $1 million in savings or added revenues that can be used to offset the cost of increasing the owners’ compensation deduction to $100,000. The deduction is currently at $91,000 and the Alliance’s long-standing goal is to get the deduction to $125,000. If funds are identified, the change would be implemented January 2014, which is the same time the paid sick leave requirements would go into effect. The Alliance continues to talk with county leaders about similar provisions in the county tax code.
(June 2013)

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Alliance expresses concern over proposed private-sector retirement plan

The Alliance expressed its opposition to legislation that would establish an Oregon Secure Retirement Plan for private-sector individuals and employees. There is concern that the legislation could lead the state into direct competition with private enterprises that already offer a variety of affordable retirement savings products for employers and individuals. The Alliance emphasized that the government should focus on job creation rather than duplicating private-sector services. Read the letter.
(June 2013)

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Alliance, Citizens Crime Commission advocate for public safety reform

Under leadership of the Citizens Crime Commission, the Alliance is advocating for a public safety reform package that would refocus resources from building a new state prison to local community safety strategies. Sponsored by the Joint Committee on Public Safety and endorsed by the Oregon Business Plan, the proposed bill contains measures to focus prison resources on the most violent offenses to head off the need to build a state prison at a cost of $600 million. The Alliance will continue to work with the Citizens Crime Commission in supporting corrections reform until a legislative package is agreed upon.
(June 2013)

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Alliance submits recommendations to the city’s 2013-14 proposed budget

Mayor Charlie Hales announced his proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The Alliance met with the mayor to discuss its position on the budget, emphasizing the need for continued funding of programs that support downtown livability and city-wide economic development. Specifically, the Alliance suggested budget adjustments concerning water and sewer rates, the Portland Development Commission, and the Portland Police Bureau. The Alliance will continue to work with Mayor Hales and other members of council in advocating for these budget recommendations. Read the letter.
(May 2013)

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Alliance helps clarify new paid sick leave ordinance for businesses

The Alliance has been assisting a number of businesses and business associations to understand the requirements of the city of Portland’s new Paid Sick Leave mandate. Many firms do not realize that the ordinance does not go into effect until January 2014, so there is time for rule making, outreach and education. The Alliance also continues to discuss with members of Portland City Council the need for adjustments to the ordinance to address specific member concerns, such as a provision to recognize existing collective bargaining agreements.
(May 2013)

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Alliance urges city to consider suggested budget cuts

In a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales, the Alliance recommended ways to reduce costs within the city's budget rather than eliminating programs and front line positions. The Alliance urged the city to consider freezing cost-of-living adjustment increases, reducing middle-management positions and taking other efficiency steps to those adopted by Multnomah County as it has faced budget reductions over the last five years. The Alliance is working on another letter targeted at specific bureaus to advocate for additional ways to reduce costs. Read the letter.
(April 2013)

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Tax-related bills

The Alliance is working with its business association partners at the state level to oppose a number of other tax-related bills that could impact business health, including:
  • SB 310: This bill would modify methods for distributing business income for purposes of corporate excise taxes, taxes on goods produced for sale, requiring the sales of all sister and subsidiary members of corporations to be included in the total calculation of sales in Oregon if one of the companies is taxable in the state.
  • HB 2331: This bill proposes an excise tax on the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and concentrates and allows local governments to enforce their own taxes. Read the letter.
  • HB 3160: This bill would allow the state's attorney general or individuals to sue insurance companies over claims disputes under the Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
  • SB 311: This bill proposes an assigned tax on sales of intangibles and services to the state where the customer is located rather than the state where the service is performed, replacing the current Cost-of-Performance approach with the Market-based approach.
(April 2013)

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Alliance opposes paid sick leave

The Oregon Legislature has proposed a paid sick leave bill that would require paid sick leave for any employer with more than six employees. The Alliance opposes this bill because of the adverse impact it will have on many small businesses in the region. The bill largely mirrors the city's recently adopted rule with some exceptions, the primary difference being that the state bill would require seven days of paid sick leave rather than five as required by the city ordinance.
(April 2013)

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Alliance opposes tax package HB 2456; urges Legislature to focus on PERS reform

The Alliance joined other business organizations in opposing legislation that would increase income and business taxes in Oregon by $260 million. The Alliance testified that additional revenues should not be on the table until the Legislature has finished the job of fixing the cost of state Public Employee Retirement System. The cost of PERS is increasing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so, even if the Legislature adopts the Democrats' proposed plan. Governor Kitzhaber proposed changes to the PERS system that would save more than $800 million, significantly bending the cost curve for the program. The Alliance, Associated Oregon Industries, Oregon Business Association and the Oregon Business Council urged the committee to focus on solving the PERS issue rather than adding new taxes on small business. Read the letter.

How the rising costs of PERS are impacting current public budgets is explained by ECONorthwest's John Tapogna in a recent video.
(April 2013)

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Portland City Council passes flawed paid sick leave ordinance

Over the objections of the Portland Business Alliance and other business advocates, Portland City Council last week approved a mandatory sick leave ordinance that will have an adverse impact on many small businesses in Portland. Council spent an unprecedented brief time to consider the ordinance before adopting it on March 14 with a 5-0 vote. The Alliance objected to the lack of public process around the proposal, as well as to several problems that remained in the ordinance that was eventually passed by council.

Before the final City Council action, Alliance staff and Small Business Council Chair, Andrew Frazier, participated in a sick leave task force co-chaired by Portland City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz. The task force, comprised of both sick leave supporters and opponents, met in February to discuss possible changes. Ultimately, some changes suggested by the business community were incorporated into the proposed code; the most significant were extending the start of eligibility for the benefit from 240 hours to 90 days and clarifying requirements for companies with employees in more than one location. Other requests by the business community, including an exemption for existing collective bargaining agreements and a simple opt-out or certification mechanism for companies offering equal or better benefits were not adopted by Council. The Alliance voiced support for the latter suggestion in a letter to Mayor Charlie Hales. Both suggestions were not included. Read the letter.

The ordinance is slated to take effect January 1, 2014. The Alliance still has concerns about the ordinance because of its adverse impact on small businesses and because many of the issues raised by businesses were not fully addressed. Commissioner Fritz has indicated that additional rulemaking will take place this summer and the Alliance will continue to track the issue. Read the adopted paid sick leave policy.
(March 2013)

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Alliance opposes Metro parks maintenance levy

The Alliance board of directors opposes Metro's new five-year parks maintenance levy that will be on the May ballot. This tax measure would cost the typical homeowner 9.6 cents per $1,000 in home value and, if approved, would appear on homeowners' November property tax bill. Metro estimates this tax would generate $10 million over its life for maintenance of parks and natural areas. Over the years, Metro has acquired significant acreage in parks and wilderness but determined that it needs additional funds to maintain them. The Alliance is opposing the measure as it does not align with its position that it will only endorse tax measures associated with education until the economy is recovered.
(March 2013)

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Alliance expresses support for continued funding of Downtown Marketing Initiative

Travel Portland, the Downtown Retail Council and the Alliance expressed support for continued funding of the Downtown Marketing Initiative (DMI). The interim director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has proposed eliminating the city's $900,000 plus contribution to the DMI. The funding comes from parking revenue generated by PBOT as a result of the most recent round of parking fee increases and the extension of paid parking to Sundays and evenings. Additionally, many downtown retailers fund downtown's public parking through the shopping validation program. Read the letter.
(March 2013)

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Alliance raises concern about paid sick leave ordinance

In mid-January, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz introduced an ordinance that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave to all employees. The Alliance and many small business owners have raised serious issues with the proposal. Meanwhile, Commissioner Fritz has scheduled for a final vote by council on March 6. In addition to raising concerns at the first city council hearing, the Alliance hosted Commissioner Fritz at a meeting with representatives of member businesses in which members discussed how the ordinance would significantly impact their business and employee compensation benefits. The Alliance is participating on the city's task force to address specific issues such as the financial impacts of the ordinance on employers, the process between the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and employee-generated complaints, the rate and timing of accrual, the impacts of a city-only mandate, reporting requirements and compliance certification. Read the letter to Commissioner Fritz.
(February 2013)

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Alliance argues against new regulations for utility outage reporting, proposed ordinance pulled from council's agenda

Mayor Sam Adams has put off Portland City Council's consideration of new utility outage reporting requirements, after the Alliance and others expressed concern about how the proposal would work. The mayor said City Council would instead consider a resolution directing the Emergency Services Bureau to review how Hurricane Sandy impacted utilities in the East, and then prepare a proposal for consideration by the new City Council in 2013.

Earlier, the Alliance had sent a letter to the mayor, expressing concerns that the initially proposed ordinance was addressing a problem that does not exist, and was creating new fees and mandates. The Alliance expressed concerns about the duplicative nature of the proposal, explaining that gas and electric utilities are already required to report outages under rules established by the Oregon Ut
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